Adi 221 "Tuna"

One of the great moments in a watch nerd's progress is the day you realize that watches can come from places other than Switzerland, Japan, or China. Through the wonders of globalized production and Internet sales, it is possible to find watches from some far-flung and sometimes seemingly unlikely places. Many are merely novelties, but some are genuine bargains with a unique character, like the Israeli made Adi 221 diver's watch. It has an attractive design, an interesting story, and 200m water resistance, for only about $90 new. Sadly, it has been discontinued, but every now and then, one will pop up for sale in an enthusiast's forum. That is how I found mine. Here is why you should look for one of your own.


Adi watches are designed in Israel and assembled on Kibbutz Yavne, south of Tel Aviv. There is not much information about them on line, at least not in English as the Adi website is entirely in Hebrew, but it appears the company sells Timex, Citizen, and Torgoen watches in addition to their own line. The range includes a mix of dress and casual pieces, as well as a series of tool watches, some of which have been supplied to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The watch arrived in a clever little metal box, embossed with the Adi logo and secured with two clips. I am not generally impressed with watch display boxes, but this was a nice touch.

The 221 features a bezel shroud that has drawn comparison to the same feature on the enormous Seiko Marine Master Professional. As a result, the Adi now shares the enthusiast nickname "Tuna" (for tuna can, a reference to the Seiko's prodigious 45mm girth); however, that is about as far as the similarities go. The Adi 221 is in no way a Seiko homage. It has a comparatively modest, round 42mm stainless steel case with a satin finish, giving it a flat grey cast that also extends to the bezel and shroud. While 42mm is still a healthy size for a man's watch, the Adi is designed to minimize size, not accentuate it. Everything about the watch appears soft, from the sober grey color, to the radiused bezel, to the corners of the shroud. The bezel teeth are a series of convex dents in the upper part of the bezel. They are clearly defined and easy to grasp, but not angular like the gear teeth of some other dive bezels. The bezel is marked in increments of ten, filled in black with a lume pip at the topmost point. It is unidirectional and moves with a firm click. The crown is located at 4 o'clock, and its stubby lugs curve downwards.  Both of these elements act to further reduce the appearance of size. Overall, the watch wears more like a 40mm than a 42mm. 


The dial continues the silver-grey color scheme. The hour markers are raised and filled with a green-white lume, as are the diver hands. The markers are round with a five sided "home plate" at 12 o'clock, which along with the 6 and 9 o'clock markers, has a short dart pointing to the center of the dial. A small black triangle occupies the 3 o'clock position, pointing to the back framed window for the black-on-white day and date complication. A black printed chapter index rings the dial. Text is kept to a tasteful minimum with the Adi script at the top, and 20 ATM at the bottom. The 221 is functional and understated, yet still distinctive. Grey on grey with greenish markers is not a particularly common combination, but rather attractive one. 

The case back is simple but attractive, with a polished finish and engraved with the Adi logo and a leaping dolphin. It also declares its 20 ATM (200m) water resistance, which is achieved with a double gasket system, but not a screw down crown. Underneath is a quartz movement supplied by Miyota. It is nothing fancy, but accurate, reliable, and easy to replace if it becomes necessary. In what is no less than a minor miracle at this price point, the second hand hits every mark, every time. Up front, it wears a flat mineral crystal. The watch left the factory with a 22mm rubber strap with a printed wind velocity chart and an Adi logo buckle. This strap had long since disappeared from the watch I purchased. Instead, I ordered a grey and black RAF style nylon strap with blasted hardware from Time Factors and found it was a perfect pairing. The matte finish hardware matched the Adi's case just as the grey and black regimental stripe echoed the black and grey of the bezel. I really can't imagine anything better. 


The language barrier may prove a problem when ordering from the Adi site - assuming they even offer international sales. I found it impossible to tell. English speaking shoppers will have an easier time at IsraeliProducts.com. This U.S. based importer operates a warehouse in Baltimore, Maryland and carries several Adi watches, including some of the odder analog/digital military models. Sadly, the 221 is no longer among them. The model 229 is similar to the 221  sharing the quartz movement, 4 o'clock crown, and 200m water resistance, but it is a far more conventional design, looking more like a Seiko SKX007. If you really crave a 221 Tuna, I suggest you log into Watch Recon and set a search for Adi. It may take some time, but if you find one, you will be rewarded with a unique and useful watch, for very little money. 

Pro: Cheap, attractive, and capable
Con: Discontinued and hard to find
Sum: Happy hunting! 

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